Friday, September 24, 2010

Honourable Mentions: Never the Bride

Never the Bride is the first of a series by Paul Magrs, set in Whitby about a B&B owner called Brenda, who appears to be a pensioner but might be more than she lets on. The series was recommended to me and I got the first book, which arrived around the time that Curt Purcell featured the fourth book of the series over at the Groovy Age of Horror (note that Curt’s article, being about the fourth book, offers more spoilers than this one, also note just how long this write up has languished in my pending folder!)

The book is set into five interrelated chapters that could almost stand up as short stories on their own and follows the adventures of Brenda and her best friend Effie. The first chapter, about the Deadly Boutique – a makeover establishment with a machine that drains years off ladies (with the side effect that they become younger, though they sometimes regress to pre-human) mentions vampires in passing as a descriptor.

However, in the final chapter Effie gets a new fancy man , one Kristoff Alucard. Now, I know you are thinking that it is fairly obvious but Brenda at first only feels a jealousy towards the man and vague feeling that something is not right. Later she puts two and two together and confronts Effie about him being a vampire – a fact Effie was aware of. As for the name: “I thought you’d have worked it out days ago. It’s obvious. Think of his name, what it spells backwards.”

Obvious for Effie and us maybe, but not for Brenda. “Oh!’ I’ve always been useless at anagrams and crosswords, things like that… …‘So, he’s Dracula then? That’s what you’re saying?”

The book is a hoot, and I particularly loved what he did with the War of the Worlds. It has a tall tale aspect, that was reminiscent slightly of Robert Rankin, but with more of a referential bent (somewhat like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with pensioners) and a gentler, though effective humour. Recommended (with a brief vampiric visitation towards the end).

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